Monday, December 4, 2023

Statement from Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee on privacy breach

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Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee has issued the following statement:

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“On October 13, the Department of Health and Social Services was made aware of a privacy breach by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I offer my sincere apologies to those impacted by this privacy breach. Ensuring that Yukoners’ personal information is protected and secure is of the utmost importance and we are taking this situation very seriously. The department is finalizing its review of the information to identify and notify all affected individuals directly by registered mail by the end of the week. We will be providing each individual with contact information and someone they can talk to at Health and Social Services, and we will be following up and reaching out directly with a personal phone call to those most affected.

“The subject of the breach was an un-encrypted USB drive that contained case files from Family and Children’s Services. The files were removed from the Health and Social Services system by a former employee. While the files are not recent, they are sensitive in nature and the former employee was not authorized to have taken this information. The former employee abandoned their belongings in a storage unit, which later ended up being sold to a local pawn shop.

“Within 24 hours of being notified by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, we were confident that all information on the USB drive was recovered and secured. We now have the USB drive safely in our possession, and we have confirmed with the three individuals who were known to have witnessed some of the contents of the device that they have destroyed any copies of information on the USB drive and that they have not disclosed any of the confidential information.

“While the investigation continues, this file remains open with the RCMP as the department considers further action.

“Prior to this breach coming to light, the Department of Health and Social Services replaced its case management system to one where files are now only accessible through a government port with security log in. Protecting client information is foundational to providing safe social services and staff who handle client information are trained on the comprehensive procedures we have in place to protect our clients.

“While staff are trained to follow these policies, protocols and safeguards, the department is reiterating and reviewing staff obligations and responsibilities to further protect the private person information and health information of Yukoners.”

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